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"A World To Win": China, the Afro-Asian Writers' Bureau, and the Reinvention of World Literature

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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  • Pieter Vanhove
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>3/04/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Critical Asian Studies
Issue number2
Volume51
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)144-165
Publication statusPublished
Early online date27/11/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article analyzes Chinese contributions to the Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau’s efforts to reinvent World Literature from an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist perspective. The Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau was founded as a counter-narrative to Eurocentric conceptions of World Literature and universal culture. The AAWB’s vision was inspired by a Marxian understanding of worldliness. Relying on Chinese archival materials, this article shows how Chinese representatives to the AAWB, including Zhou Yang and Mao Dun, shifted from an explicitly Soviet, socialist-realist model for World Literature inspired by Maxim Gorky to a progressively independent, nationalist course in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split. The story of the AAWB is one of competing universal visions. The Chinese contributions to the AAWB are also reflected in China’s current expanding cultural influence and soft power in the Global South.